Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On a Scale of 1-10, I'm a 13.1

Holy Moses.

This past Sunday, June 4, 2017, I ran my first half marathon.

I'll let that sink in.


Remember how I decided to take up running because I was bored? (Seriously, why? Why didn't I take up sun bathing? Or gelato tasting? Or kitten cuddler? Why running?) In Decemeber-ish, maybe even January, I signed up for a couple of 5Ks, almost fell down the rabbit hole of ordering WAY too many virtual run medals, and then challenged myself to run one race each month. #12monthsofraces My intention was to stick to 5ks. Only 5Ks. Quick, easy, fun, done. 5Ks.

So how did I go from a lover of 5Ks to half marathoner in just six months? (Seriously, I don't even believe it when I say that out loud. Or in my head.) Honestly? Mostly stubbornness, pride, and the fact that I didn't want to lose the money I had already paid.

Despite constant searching, there were no 5Ks to be found in/ around Rio de Janeiro during the month of June. (Even though June/ July have the mildest weather here in Rio, so it seems like the perfect time for some races. But what do I know?) It would be hard to complete #12monthsofraces without a June race. So I looked around and somehow stumbled across the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu. They were offering an 8K and a 21K race and while I would have been happier with the 8K race, I figured that if I was going to pay the money to fly out to Foz do Iguaçu, I was going to do the whole thing. All 21 stinkin' kilometers of it.

Unfortunately, I paid for the race, but then flights and hotel prices kept creepin' up and up. Upwards of $600 for both for the weekend. Which is a lot of money to pay for a race that I wasn't even sure I was going to like. So I kind of figured that was that. No half marathon, no June race, no #12monthsofraces. But then about two weeks before the race, I checked flight prices and hotel prices on a whim. It was about $200 for both, for the whole weekend. Sigh, fiiiiiiine. For $200, I could do it.

The next thing I knew, I had booked a hotel, a flight, and was officially 13 days away from completing my first half marathon.

At which point I had started to panic because I hadn't really been training due to injury, travels, and friends visiting me in Rio. I spent a couple of days running around the Lagoa and a couple more days running at the gym and the whole two weeks panicking.

Next thing I knew, May was over, June was here, and it was race freakin' weekend. On Saturday, I went to Marco das Três Fronteras, which is where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina all come together, to pick up my race kit. Unfortunately, I had a taxi driver waiting for me and the meter runs quickly in Iguaçu, so I didn't get to stay long. So that makes two trips to Marco das Três Fronteras and two times without actually seeing the monument.

My Saturday plan mostly included laying around in my hotel room and reading a book/ watching TV, but the TV was only in Portuguese, it was nice weather, and part of the race kit included free admission to Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, so I decided to leave my hotel room and head to the park. As always, it was so worth it.

Seriously, the falls are flippin' awesome. I would spend all day, every day at the falls, if I didn't have to have a job and such. It was also a little bit sunny and a lot a bit misty, which made for some killer rainbows all. freakin'. day.

Before, during, and after. 
All weekend, the weather was predicting 100% chance of thunderstorms for the entirety of the race. It was freakin' me out. I felt like I wasn't prepared, clothes wise, which was causing me far more anxiety than necessary. And despite telling myself to have little to no expectations, 3 hours of running through a thunderstorm was NOT how I envisioned my first half.

Luckily, it was all for naught, as it didn't even rain once single drop. Not once during the race, and only for about 3.5 seconds after I crossed the finish line. Thank goodness, too, because I had enough to deal with without the rain.

13.1 miles is NO JOKE. It's far as heck.

Foolishly, I'd only been training around the Lagoa or on a treadmill and not including any sort of hill workouts. Dumbbbbb because so much of this course was hills. Not major hills, I think there was only a 750 feet elevation gain throughout the entire course, but goodness gracious, we were going up and down those 750 feet the entire time.

It's just so beautiful.
The first 13K were completed outside of the park, and then, at the 8K mark, we entered the park and ran to the falls. I'll admit, it was gorgeous. And I definitely kept reminding myself to enjoy my surroundings, to look around, to soak it all in. I was doing my first half marathon in FOZ DO FREAKIN' IGUAÇU for cryin' out loud. I thought I was dying, but it was pretty amazing.

My goal was to run a sub-2:45 half and I DID. Which is something that I still cannot believe. This half marathon represents so much-- working hard(-ish) for something that I didn't think I would ever be capable of (or even want to do), pushing myself when I wanted to stop, traveling somewhere alone without meeting anyone on the other side.

I don't think that half marathons are going to become my distance of choice (have I mentioned how FAR 13.1 miles is?!), but I did it. And now I know that I can. And on a scale of 1-10, I can now say that I'm a 13.1.